Today marks the day in the calendar in which the British larder would run bare if we only fed the nation British food from 1 January.
According to the NFU, the UK’s current self-sufficiency in home-grown food and drink is 62%.
In recent weeks, farmers have taken part in protests against low milk and lamb prices. It shows the level of desperation felt by some facing severe financial hardship in the current situation.
Plummeting farmgate prices, a continued downward trend in global markets for household essentials like milk and supermarkets continuing to devalue food have all highlighted the dire situation many British farmers are facing.
The union has warned that unless action is taken to improve this rate, it could drop to 53% by the mid-2040s when the UK population is predicted to soar to 77 million and become the most populous country in the EU.
To highlight the importance of the UK farming sector, the NFU is today celebrating Back British Farming Day (14 August).
NFU president Meurig Raymond is telling retailers, government and the British public that now is the time to back our farmers and buy British.
“If you want great British food tomorrow, then buy great British food today,” he said.
Mr Raymond added: “Everybody should be concerned and treat this projected decline in Britain’s ability to feed itself as a wake-up call.
“Sustainably increasing production is a challenge I know farmers are up for, but they need to have the conditions which make it possible for them to have a viable future in order to produce Great British food now, tomorrow and in the future.
“Our Back British Farming Day today highlights the importance of the farming sector, not just as producers of food, but for the value we add to the economy, employment and our beautiful and diverse countryside.”
Mr Raymond said volatility caused by uncertainty in markets was helped by retailers “playing fast and loose on promotions, a lack of investment across the board and pressure from increased imports”.
“We have met with the UK farming unions this week and agreed a list of urgent actions to move us on from this current dire situation,” he added.
“Nobody would want a situation where Britain produced less than half the food it needs. We need action now to ensure that the British public – who tell us time and time again that they want to buy British – have that option in the future.”
The NFU will be holding events in Manchester and Cardiff on Friday to promote Back British Farming Day, where farmers will be promoting the industry to the public.
With lamb producers and dairy farmers in particular facing severe price pressures, NFU Cymru has organised a positive demonstration in Cardiff to showcase the quality and versatility of Welsh produce to consumers.
NFU Cymru deputy president John Davies said: “We’re keen to harness Welsh consumers’ powerful voice so we can use it when it comes to getting retailers, restaurants and government in Wales to back the Welsh farming industry.”
Wales office minister, Alun Cairns, said: “Agriculture is a major part of our life in Wales and farming is one of our key industries, as the prime minister pointed out on his recent visit to the Royal Welsh Show.
“We are lucky in this country to produce some truly outstanding natural produce, from famous Welsh lamb to our dairy herds. Today’s event demonstrates that you can enjoy a range of world-beating Welsh products and support our farmers at the same time.”